The Early Childhood Community Team (ECCT) project, a Mental Health Services Act program piloted in Half Moon Bay and Daly City in 2010, expanded last year with funding from Measure A, the half-cent sales tax approved by 65 percent of San Mateo County voters in November 2012.

The expansion helped increase services in the North County region and begin services in two new communities (the North Fair Oaks community of Redwood City and the South Coast in Pescadero and La Honda).

The ECCTs developed out of a need to offer preventive and early intervention services to families in their communities with a team of providers capable of meeting various levels of need while also reducing the stigma of accessing mental health support through a “depth and breadth” approach.

Teams consist of a mental health clinician who offers dyadic therapy with child and parent, a community outreach worker who leads parent-child groups and provides case management and parent support/education, and an early childhood mental health consultant who supports childcare staff and families in preschool/early care settings. Each of these members is specifically trained in their unique roles – the “breadth” component of the model.

Through their work in community settings, like pre- schools and resource centers, the community outreach worker and mental health consultant get to know fami- lies in a familiar and comfort- able setting. When families request or are identified as needing a higher level of sup- port, the team works together to make the connection to the mental health clinician. Working within a specific geographic region, the team can tailor their practice to the specific issues arising for the community (isolation, trauma, homelessness, or others), contributing to the “depth” of the team.

During the expansion of the ECC teams, we took into consideration how important having a physical presence in each community would be to increasing engagement with families and establishing positive relationships with community partners, and a main focus for our expansion was to cultivate relationships with our community partners to establish this presence. By the end of the fiscal year we were successful in placing various staff at different locations throughout the county.

In Daly City and South San Francisco, we partner with Our Second  Home and Watch Me Grow where our Community Worker provides services in their offices. In Redwood City, our Men- tal Health Clinician and Community Worker reside at the Fair Oaks Family Resource Center. (In Half Moon Bay, our Mental Health Clinician and Community Worker continue  to have space at the school district office.) Our visibility in each community has been essential in building trust with our community partners and our families.

Though a small team of just nine staff, in the last year the expanded Early Childhood Community Teams visited the homes of 70 families and consulted with 70 childcare providers in eight centers enrolling over 500 children. Of the 24 families participating in intensive case consultation services, 10 respondents to our annual satisfaction survey indicated the consultant was very effective in supporting their relationship with their child (90%), very effective or effective in increasing their understanding of their child's needs and behaviors (100%), and very effective or effective in supporting their relationship with their child's teachers (100%).

The Mental Health Clinicians served 34 clients. Sixteen clients completed services suc- cessfully in this fiscal year and 14 of those clients reported an improvement in their post- treatment scores.

The Community Workers were able to serve 143 clients who participated in parent-child activity groups and workshops held in Redwood City, Daly City, South San Francisco, and La Honda.

For more information about the Early Childhood Community Teams, please contact Program Managers Eric Valladares ( and Sarah Dobkin (

- Sarah Dobkin, StarVista

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 edition of Welllness Matters, an e-journal of San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.